Does your block make the grade?
That’s a question you will actually be asking yourself in the near future, at least if the recent venture BlockAvenue takes off. The new company from Boston’s Dogpatch Labs recently raised $200,000 from angel investors and is set on translating the 50 million data points they have acquired and aggregated from across the United States into letter grades. According to the company’s founder and CEO Tony Longo, “finding the right place to live in a city can be difficult and in dense urban areas, quality of life is often determined more by which block you live on than which neighborhood you are in.” In the tradition of other location companies, BlockAvenue will analyze data like crime statistics to public transit options as well as local restaurant and shopping grades to determine each block’s overall A‑F letter grade.
Another fascinating aspect of the BlockAvenue site is that users can rate just about anything on it, from convenience stores to tobacco shops to schools. This has been a long time, as Yelp has already allowed just about anything to have a review written on it. However, BlockAvenue will consolidate these reviews into their own rating system and place them on a map with overall statistical data. As BlockAvenue’s Longo states, “Until now, location-based information has not been aggregated in an easy and useful way for people to understand and consume. By providing an intuitive platform powered by both geodata and social conversation, we can help people understand what the makeup is or where the trend is heading at virtually any location throughout the U.S.”
Complexity of the Ratings System
As BlockAvenue is a brand new location company, it is still working out the kinks. Using it in the first few days after it’s launch will render a number of funny and inaccurate grades around the world, as well as various businesses which aren’t located in the correct place on the map. For instance, a number of oceans have both F and B ratings, which seems comically inaccurate and many places around the world receive arbitrary grades from A to F with no real explanation. Of course, as the company grows all of these technological hiccups should be ironed out. The tabulation of the ratings per block will also be the source of debate as BlockAvenue grows in the future. For example, will a block with a number of excellent restaurants and shops have their grade seriously impeded because a few sex offenders also live on it? How will these clashing statistics effect that block going forward. In these cases, the launch and prosperity of BlockAvenue may shatter a certain blissful ignorance.
Starting out BlockAvenue will be most focused on major metropolitan areas like Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. but hopes to expand everywhere, based on response.